ESF - English Schools Foundation


PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 May, 2011, 12:00am

Harasser role for gay boss insensitive

I refer to Leo Cheung's letter ('Why show gay as victimiser?', May 14) in which he expressed concern that a gay boss was depicted as a sexual harasser in one of the television docudramas on equal opportunities produced jointly by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) and RTHK.

Although the EOC's intention for this episode was to highlight the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, we fully understand Mr Cheung's concern about the inappropriate characterisation in this instance.

In producing the docudramas, the EOC has traditionally, out of respect for RTHK's production independence, confined its role to providing producers with case information and other advice as necessary. Under our current arrangement with RTHK, the EOC neither sees the full script nor vets the episode prior to its broadcast.

However, after each series, we do discuss feedback we received with RTHK and how future episodes may be improved. We fully intend to follow up on the concerns raised about this issue.

The EOC is aware that many in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community have suffered a great deal of discrimination and hardship in their daily lives on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender. We have always been supportive of the LGBT community's right to non-discrimination and have consistently backed calls for legislation for the equal protection of this group.

The EOC has also been meeting regularly with LGBT groups to support their activities and fight for their equal rights.

The EOC is deeply mindful of our responsibility to ensure that our message of equal opportunity for all is sensibly communicated to the public. We take ultimate responsibility for the insensitive depiction in this case and have learned a lesson from it.

Lam Woon-kwong, chairperson, Equal Opportunities Commission

Police action reeked of homophobia

I was appalled to learn about action by police during a peaceful procession ('You can gather but you can't dance, police tell gays', May 16) as Hong Kong observed the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (Idaho). Freedom of speech and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to be treated equally are among the most basic human rights guaranteed under the Basic Law.

Crackdowns on some peaceful protests present a worrying trend, and I am concerned that the authorities in Hong Kong wish to suppress the voices of minorities.

The police seem to have selectively applied rarely used legislation against a particular social minority on the very day they were observing a day promoting the message of equality and anti-homophobia. This selective enforcement of the law reeks of institutional homophobia.

If it was not homophobia, then why did the authorities take such drastic measures against a group that was peacefully expressing its opinions?

As a former long-term Hong Kong resident, I attended numerous rallies, including those organised for Idaho. They are among the most peaceful I have seen anywhere in the world.

In Canada, police officers are often participants in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender events promoting the cause of equality, acceptance and human rights.

Billy R. Leung, Montreal, Canada

Private firms won't make best of site

I refer to the report ('Waterfront tenders raise concern', May 17).

The large area of reclaimed land forming the new harbourfront at Central and Wan Chai north is the most important piece of new real estate in Hong Kong, as this will become the face of our city and should generate civic pride.

The government hopes for a world-class public facility, and yet the Development Bureau has stated that the administration does not plan to inject capital into the waterfront projects.

Sites will be put out for tender by private firms. The winning consortium will design, build and operate the facilities. Private companies are driven by the profit motive, and it is doubtful that a high-quality open space will be created.

This project development model gives the private firm an incentive to lower the material cost as much as possible. It is highly questionable if the design-build-and-operate model is the correct one when dealing with prestigious civic facilities.

The Eastern and Western harbour tunnels both used this model, and it has created problems for the community and has made our government look impotent.

The design-and-build model was also applied to the new Tamar government complex, and although it is still under construction it is already obvious that this building is not the icon that our chief executive was hoping to create.

The new waterfront site has already got off to a poor start because Lung Wo Road has created another barrier between the city and the harbour, so the government should be most careful in the implementation of this public open space, or another civic opportunity will be lost in order to pander to developer interests.

K. Y. Leung, Shouson Hill

Trawling ban in HK waters a good move

We refer to James Campbell's letter ('Swift action needed to end trawling in HK's waters and let ecosystems recover', May 18). He will be gratified to know that after six years of effort on the part of WWF, the government has introduced a complete ban on trawling in Hong Kong waters. Legco approved the ban for the preservation of the marine ecosystem.

WWF is gratified the government has taken this bold step, but it should be the first of several. The next step should be to set aside adequate resources to retrain fishermen for alternative livelihoods. The administration must also institute a total ban on fishing in marine parks, to allow them to become nurseries and havens for Hong Kong fish stock.

WWF thanks its supporters, including the 60,000 who signed our petition calling for a trawling ban. It also thanks the government for taking such a bold step to preserve a valuable environmental asset.

Eric A. Bohm, CEO, WWF-Hong Kong

Why should parents pay for materials?

Two major local publishing groups are putting up the prices of textbooks.

I agree with the government's call for publishers to sell textbooks and teaching materials separately to help ease parents' financial burden.

Having books and teaching materials sold together is unfair to low-income families that are struggling to meet basic needs.

Schools should not rely on publishers to provide free teaching materials to them. Instead, they should pay for them, since they are used by the schools, not the parents, and some are of no use to the pupil.

Publishers should let schools choose what teaching materials to buy.

This can reduce waste and cut textbook costs for parents.

Stefanie Tsui Yik-sze, To Kwa Wan

Let Britain subsidise ESF schools

J. Chung et al ('No justification for ESF fee increases', May 15) should note that the English Schools Foundation schools are international schools.

They are meant for the children of transient expatriates (including locals who have acquired foreign right of abode and returned), although some bona fide local residents' children are also admitted.

As such, they ought to be subsidised by the British government, just as the international schools of other nations are subsidised by their respective home governments, thereby reducing the fee increases needed.

Perhaps that is why the ESF is seeking to build some non-international schools to separately accommodate the bona fide local children.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

Making fees deductible would help

I refer to Jake van der Kamp's column ('A lesson in subsidies for parents of ESF school pupils', May 10).

I wonder if he could list local schools that will accept my children. I have been unable to find one.

Also, doesn't he think that the government could at least make school fees tax-deductible? Unless I misunderstood something, that would go a long way towards solving the affordability problem.

Not all of us work in the financial sector, as he did.

Something's got to give.

Laurel Dillon, Pok Fu Lam